Ya gotta love West Virginia.
After a week of snow and ice, the weather turned and delivered a great Saturday, which the Power Couple spent serving Pacific Northwest style stir-fry to my parents and spoiling our grand-daughter, reminiscing and enjoying the changing seasons.
After early good-nights and a casual morning, we started out Sunday with full packs and temperatures already in the high forties under clearing skies. Traffic was light and it was with some surprise that we found Reed's Creek Road devoid of any sign of other climbers, with plenty of sunshine and dry lines and hints of returning native life. Ferns glowed green and the moss sparkled in renewed life as we wound up the steep but civil approach trail. Water dripped from the multicolored pocketed cliffs in a couple spots, each surrounded by a tiny oasis of plants and moss. We dropped packs and quickly peeled layers as the skies continued to clear and the morning actually became hot.
|Cindy Gray enjoys some pre-spring sunshine on "Gypsies"|
A handful of warm-up lines led to a run on a new route, and from there into lunch, announced by growling bellies. Hawks cut the air above the steep walls of the crag, and buzzards circled above, alert for meals of opportunity, while ravens mocked them all, tumbling in the occasional winds and winging back and forth on errands unknown. A lazy garter snake stirred from her entwining with a smaller male and stared at us as we we ran up another couple lines to finish the day, undisturbed by these odd creatures exploring her home.
A hard winter, after a hard year, and a lot of things that have taken my thoughts and life away from climbing in an undeniable, inexorable fashion, for the first time in years completely and utterly beyond my control. There is little or no relief on the horizon, but there are new friends and a handful of the old, despite my irascible temperament, a family who supports and does their best to understand me and there is Miss Cindy, my Cindy B, the incredible, inspiring lady I love, who gave me a family, and a new grandchild and who will be beside me, for as long as she can, for as long as there are places still unseen, trails to walk, mountains to climb.
She sat there in the sun, her pipe in one hand, eyes closed, a small smile playing at the corners of her mouth, the sun shining on her face, the breeze filled with the smell of the mountains coming back to life. In this moment, we had all that we needed. In this moment, we were eternal, neither young nor old, neither rich nor poor, still, unmoving, present in the moment.
And for that one moment, all was right with the world.
Muscles pleasantly stretched and quivering, we packed gear and spent another half hour just sitting in the sun relaxing, before heading down and going in search of, hot showers, homemade sweet-and-sour curry chicken salad, cold beverages and comfortable chairs. Robins hopped through the underbrush and squirrels clambered up the massive sycamores as we wound along the river towards home.